On my home PC (Windows 8.1) I have many GBs of photos which I wanted to upload to OneDrive. However, at home my internet connection is awful and this would have taken aeons to achieve. So I copied the photos onto a USB drive and took them to university where I could upload them much quicker.

The problem is now I want to somehow move the files from my home PC's local pictures folder to the OneDrive pictures folder (still keeping them on the local disk, just not in the local pictures folder anymore) without:

  • duplicating the files in the OneDrive folder
  • re-uploading them all from my home PC
  • downloading them all onto my home PC
  • (accidentally deleting the files off OneDrive)

Is there a way to somehow link the files when I move them so they are recognised as the same photos and none of the above have to happen.


So I finally manned up and just went for it. As of April 2015, the OneDrive sync engine on Windows 8.1 is sophisticated enough to recognise the files, and avoid all of the issues I feared in the question. I clicked on the notification area icon, and clicked 'Resume synchronisation'. Whilst it started resuming, I copied the local files into the OneDrive folders, choosing to 'replace all' the not-downloaded OneDrive copies. After a moment, Windows realised they were the same files and didn't upload/duplicate them.

However, I did have some issues.

1) Because I had not synced OneDrive on that desktop for so long, when I clicked 'resume', it looked like nothing was happening. But rest assured that it is indeed syncing. There was no way to pause the sync whilst it was in the process of resuming.

2) I accidentally clicked 'make online only' on my OneDrive folder in the file explorer, whilst it was resuming syncing. Don't do this. This messed things up, causing some duplicates (with the name of the desktop computer suffixed to the filenames). Luckily, only a small proportion of files were duplicated. This resulted in, for example, a DSC_0001.jpg [the original, online-only, syncing] and a DSC_0001-brianPC.jpg [available offline, syncing]. If I tried to delete DSC_0001-brianPC.jpg and then re-replace DSC_0001.jpg with the local version, it had to re-upload DSC_0001.jpg unfortunately. So make sure not to click 'make online only'.

3) Before I started, I decided to run the OneDrive troubleshooter to reset OneDrive on that desktop. I thought OneDrive would start from square one again, on that desktop, but actually the OneDrive files and folders were unaffected. In fact, the sync resumed afterwards, earlier than I wanted. This didn't really matter in the end.


I suspect that one factor that can determine whether OneDrive will recognise (i.e. not duplicate) the files depends on the 'date modified' metadata. Wait, I don't think so actually. Perhaps it is more to do with which hard disk the files you are using to replace the OneDrive files are on. Or perhaps it just gets messed up if you accidentally make files online-only.


You could try moving all your home photos to OneDrive at home. Then at the university, copy the photos from the flashdrive to your OneDrive folder. This may cause some duplicate files though depending on OneDrive's duplicate file detection method.

The safest way though is to just upload to OneDrive using the fast university connection, then let your home connection down the files to your home computer. Your download speed is typically faster than upload at home, so this task should complete quicker.

I realize you want the perfect scenario, but OneDrive lacks some intelligence in this area. It is far behind DropBox and even DropBox some issues when it has to sync files the way you describe.

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